New Paltz village officials oppose tax breaks for Kingston project

Village of New Paltz trustees are bracing for an admonition to stay in their own lane, but they feel justified approving a position statement opposing a payment-in-lieu-of-taxes (Pilot) plan for The Kingstonian, a proposed mostly market-rate mixed-use project in the uptown part of the county seat that will be anchored by high-end apartments and a parking garage. Pilots, the New Paltz board felt, were generally a bad deal that impacted all county taxpayers especially because of an inequitable agreement between the county government and the municipalities on the distribution of sales taxes.

The village wants the Kingston Common Council, the county legislature, and the Kingston school board to be mindful of the other neighboring 23 municipalities. “We all contribute and must continue to work together to generate sales-tax revenue for our county’s approximately 180,000 residents,” New Paltz village government said. “Kingston should not unilaterally forfeit property-tax revenues via Pilot schemes while municipalities like the town and village of New Paltz, as well as high-need places like the village of Ellenville, are expected to provide more than their fair share of county sales tax.”

“We will oppose any Pilots until this is worked out,” said mayor Tim Rogers, because the sales-tax agreement “intertwines us” in ways against which village leaders have no legal protection. The trustees support high-need areas like Kingston getting a higher share of revenue from the sales tax, but say that the current revenue split among governments makes this particular deal a bad one.

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(L-R): New Paltz Mayor Tim Rogers, deputy mayor KT Tobin and trustee Alexandria Wojcik.

The board also felt that placing parking in an urban center rather than on its periphery was not in keeping with current best practices in urban planning. “People do not go to places for parking,” said deputy mayor KT Tobin. “They do for amenities.”

One of the two county legislators representing New Paltz residents briefed local lawmakers on relevant legislation. Eve Walter was specifically pressed on the question of sales-tax sharing. In New York, half  the eight percent sales tax collected goes to county government, but leaders of cities may choose to take their own share directly. Ulster County and Kingston officials have worked out a deal which sends 11.5 percent of the total take to the city. Three percent is shared among those 23 municipalities. Deputy mayor KT Tobin opined that the county share — 85.5 percent — was unusually high in the state. 

Walter was questioned about two proposals. One would reduce the next city-county agreement to one year from five in acknowledgment of the uncertainty brought by the pandemic, and the other would create a high-water mark above which the revenue would be shared differently among the governments. Tobin was clear about the intent. She said she wanted to reduce the county share rather than take funds from Kingston. 

The New Paltz legislator said that county executive Pat Ryan has resisted reducing the county share, and that town supervisors have privately opposed shortening the term out of fear that a renegotiated agreement could result in even less revenue going to towns and villages. In a year in which all levels of government find their revenues under more duress, none is enthusiastic about giving up any of its share.  

Village mayor Tim Rogers, who has been part of the discussions as a member of the Association of Supervisors and Mayors, expressed skepticism that the municipalities could lose out in a renegotiation. He said Kingston would receive less money if it was collecting the portion within city limits rather than taking a negotiated piece of the larger county share.

There are 7 comments

  1. Realist.

    Hey everybody! I’m going to give this bitter to you straight, no politics, no NIMBY B-S.
    Here’s the deal.

    First of all, NO locality should be permitted to interfere in the economic development of other localities.
    New Paltz do New Paltz. Kingston do Kingston.

    Second, New Paltz has a d i s m a l record of economic development in recent years They fight off
    any new proposals with an array of false expectations while they permit existing properties to slide into
    decay. Drive around town. It is everywhere. Add to that, they fought hard to keep out Zero Place – guess what, it looks great, while that stretch of 32 languishes around it with empty and outdated properties. They can’t get a CVS in town – many of us are required by our insurance companies to use CVS specifically, so instead of equal access to medicine, we are forced to drive to Kingston or Poughkeepsie. They fought hard to kill the Denizen Theatre – an amazing space that fits in perfectly…and we can’t for it to show performance again, once Covid passes. They fight, fight, fight, for many of the wrong reasons.

    Third, Best Buy is closing, the large employers at Hudson Valley mall are essentially gone forever (I hope
    target and the theatres can hold on). And the political foolishness is now messing with what will be a
    tremendous revenue generator for Kingston, Ulster County, and yes…even New Paltz. Hotel revenues, payroll tax, spending by employees who get jobs there, construction expenditures, all of that will more than makeup a request for assistance to a local, homegrown, private developer who is spending private investment dollars to build the City of Kingston a parking garage. Did you know the average cost of a parking garage as proposed is about $12 Million Dollars?

    Forget that new residents shop, work, eat, and spend locally.
    Forget that new employees live, work, shop, spend locally.
    Forget that new tourists walk, shop, eat, and spend locally.

    We have a ton of amazing businesses Uptown that will benefit years beyond an incremental tax break.

    Don’t bite off your nose to spite your face, people.

    Seeing the Kingstonian built not only puts this into motion as a huge positive for the city; it also shows very
    concretely that Kingston and Ulster County are place to do business, a place to live, a place to grow — not a place that is slowing dying over 40-years since the closure of IBM.

    The alternative is simple — anything New Paltz proposes moving forward will now be blocked by the other towns and villages.

    I don’t think you want that.

    1. Susan Spencer Crowe

      Many of us here in Kingston, disagree with your analysis. If the project is so good, why are so many people against it as it stands? The City of Kingston should not be building high-end luxury housing for a few spots in a parking garage. What Kingston needs is affordable housing for the people that already live in the county and it needs to rebuild Midtown Kingston into a lively corridor between the Rondout and Uptown which would attractive more businesses.

      1. Master C

        How are you going to pay for it all? Why not try to solve both issues, the best of both worlds will go hand in hand in a community. The reality is every state and community in NY is broke and the last thing people need are tax increases. You can tax the rich to pay for it all, but your going to lose them and all their revenue is going with them.

        People need jobs and these jobs are created by giving reasons and incentives for people, businesses and tourists to stop by and invest in the community.

  2. Urban Planner

    New Paltz is doing exactly the opposite of many cities and town across the nation at this critical time.
    Philadelphia, Nashville, Atlanta, Charlottesville, literally hundreds of communities are owning up to the
    fact of what a development like The Kingstonian, in Kingston’s example, are more essential than ever
    to the long-term growth and fiscal benefits of our hometowns.

    Not supporting The Kingstonian is a grave mistake that will come back to bite Ulster County on the rear
    because it sends multiple negative anti-business messages and there will be apoint where folks will just
    take their business elsewhere. We can not afford that.

    Kingston was hitting a positive stride just before Covid hit, and once it’s gone we will need to work harder
    than ever, more aggressively than ever, to get quality, density, and new housing, retail, and hospitality jobs
    back and better than ever.

    Kingston’s leadership needs to step and say no, we’re not draggging our feet on this anymore. Shovels
    should be in the ground by Jan 1 if we are to be competitive and ready to open for business.

    It is imperative.
    Stop this political nonsense and start being serious about our future.

    1. Kingston resident

      “sends multiple negative anti-business messages” is one of the lamest things I’ve ever heard. If a business doesn’t work without government give aways then a business doesn’t work! If I have to pay my taxes then so should a multi-million dollar project built for the wealthy.

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